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17

Fluid Dynamics in Microchannels


Jyh-tong Teng et al.*
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Chung Yuan Christian University, Chung-Li
Taiwan

1. Introduction
1.1 Need for microchannels research
In contrast to external flow, the internal flow is one for which the fluid is confined by a
surface. Hence the boundary layer develops and eventually fills the channel. The internal
flow configuration represents a convenient geometry for heating and cooling fluids used in
chemical processing, environmental control, and energy conversion technologies [1].
In the last few decades, owing to the rapid developments in micro-electronics and
biotechnologies, the applied research in micro-coolers, micro-biochips, micro-reactors, and
micro-fuel cells have been expanding at a tremendous pace. Among these micro-fluidic
systems, microchannels have been identified to be one of the essential elements to transport
fluid within a miniature area. In addition to connecting different chemical chambers,
microchannels are also used for reactant delivery, physical particle separation, fluidic
control, chemical mixing, and computer chips cooling.
Generally speaking, the designs and the process controls of Micro-Electro-Mechanical-
Systems (MEMS) and micro-fluidic systems involved the impact of geometrical
configurations on the temperature, pressure, and velocity distributions of the fluid on the
micrometer (10-6 m) scale (Table 1.1). Therefore, in order to fabricate such micro devices
effectively, it is extremely important to understand the fundamental mechanisms
involved in fluid flow and heat transfer characteristics in microchannels since their
behavior affects the transport phenomena for the bulk of MEMS and micro-fluidic
applications.
Overall, the published studies based on an extensive literature reviews include a variety of
fluid types, microchannel cross-section configurations, flow rates, analytical techniques, and
channel materials. The issues and related areas associated with the microchannels are
summarized in the following table (Table 1.2).

*Jiann-Cherng Chu1, Chao Liu2, Tingting Xu2, Yih-Fu Lien1, Jin-Hung Cheng1, Suyi Huang2, Shiping Jin2,
Thanhtrung Dang3, Chunping Zhang2, Xiangfei Yu2, Ming-Tsang Lee4, and Ralph Greif5
1Department of Mechanical Engineering, Chung Yuan Christian University, Chung-Li, Taiwan
2School of Energy and Power Engineering, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China
3Department of Heat and Refrigeration Technology, Hochiminh City University of Technical Education,

Hochiminh City, Vietnam


4Department of Mechanical Engineering, National Chung Hsing University, Taichung, Taiwan
5Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of California at Berkeley, CA, USA

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404 Fluid Dynamics, Computational Modeling and Applications

Definition The range of channel dimension


Conventional channels Dc3 mm
Minichannels 3 mm Dc 200 m
Microchannels 200 m Dc 10 m
Transitional Microchannels 10 m Dc 1 m
Transitional Nanochannels 1 m Dc 0.1 m
Nanochannels Dc0.1 m

Table 1.1. Channel classification schemes [2]

General research areas Related studies


1. Cross-sections of microchannels 1. Size effect (Hydraulic diameter)
-Triangle, Rectangle, Trapezoid, Circle, Square 2. Aspect ratio
and Non-uniform. 3. Entrance effect

2. Materials of microchannels 1. Surface roughness


- Silicon, Nickel, Polycarbonate, Polyamide, Fused 2. Contact angle
silica, Stainless steel, Copper, Aluminum, Brass, 3. Hydrophilic and hydrophobic property
Glass, Oxidized silicon, SiO2, Polyvinylchloride, 4. Electrical double layer (EDL)
Poly-dimethylsiloxane(PDMS), 5. Thermo-physical properties
poly-methyl methacrylate (PMMA).
3. Types of flows 1. Polarity
- N2, H2, Ar, Water, R-134a, Methanol, Iso- 2. Rarefaction effect
propanol, Aqueous KCI, Fluorinert fluid FC-84, 3. Compressibility
Vertrel XF, Air, Helium, Silicon oil. 4. Temperature jump
5. Non-slip and Slip
6. Joule heating

4. Flow rates 1. Critical Reynolds number of the


- Reynolds number, Mach number transition to turbulence
2. Viscous heating or Viscous dissipation
3. Mal-distribution

5. Analytical techniques for microchannel 1. Flow pattern and visualization


flows 2. Velocity field
- Numerical simulation 3. Temperature distribution
- Experimental analysis 4. Friction factor
5. Nusselt number
6. Poiseuille number

Table 1.2. Summary of research areas and discussed issues related to fluid flow in
microchannel [3]

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Fluid Dynamics in Microchannels 405

1.2 Research methodology


As the field of micro-fluidic systems continues to grow, it is becoming increasingly
important to understand the mechanisms and fundamental differences involved in micro-
scale fluid flow.
To study the thermal and hydrodynamic characteristics of fluid flow in microchannels, this
work used experimental measure and numerical simulation to investigate the behavior of
flow and temperature fields in microchannels. In this chapter, each part of the study will be
described separately as follows.

1.2.1 Experimental work


To carry out the experiments of the flow in microchannels, first and foremost, a fluid
flowing and measurement system, together with microchannel structures should be
properly designed and built up. In this study, the details of experimental procedure
involving the manufacturing of test chip, construction of experimental system, and analysis
of experimental uncertainties will be described in the following sections.
In this chapter, an experimental flow chart related to the experimental procedure is shown
in Fig. 1.1.

Experiment equipment turned on

Liquid flow regulated to obtain


desired mass flow rate

Leakage checked

Steady state flow rate noted after 20 min

Temperature and Pressure readings


noted
Different heat
transfer condition
adjusted Test section changed
Minutely readings of P, Tw, Tin,
and Tout, noted for 2 hours

Steady state readings checked

Experimental data recorded

Experiment
completed

Fig. 1.1. Experimental flow chart [3].

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406 Fluid Dynamics, Computational Modeling and Applications

1.2.2 Experimental system


The experimental system was divided into three parts the test section, the water driving
system, and the dynamic data acquisition section. In addition, DI water (deionized water)
was used as the working fluid. The experimentally-measured data were composed of
pressure drop through the microchannel, temperatures of DI water and substrate, and the
mass flow rate. Each part of the experimental system will be described separately as
follows:
1. Test section
Since measuring the local pressure and temperature along the flow path was difficult inside
the microchannels, two sumps were machined in the PMMA block and were connected by
microchannels with holes made by laser processing. A diaphragm type differential pressure
transducer with ranges of 0-35 bars was connected to the sumps to measure the
corresponding pressure drop across the inlet and outlet of the microchannel. Concerns had
been raised that this kind of fitting could cause some dead volume resulting in the detection
of false signals. However, to minimize the dead volume that might appear in the flow
channel, extreme caution had been taken to ensure that no visible dead volume was
observed there.
2. Water-driven system
Precision-controlled fluidic HPLC pump or injection pump was used to transport the DI
water through the test section, and the flow rate was controlled in a range from 0.1 to 40
ml/min for the DI water flow. A filter (with a screening size of 0.2 m) was installed
midway to remove any possible particulates and contaminants that might be present in
water under testing. For the case with heat generation, the stainless steel plate was
electrically heated by directly connecting the bottom of test sections to a DC power supply
that provided low voltage and high electric current. Once the working fluid was flowing
into the test section, measurements of the pressure drop and temperature were done,
followed by the weight measurement of the collected fluid using a precision electronic
balance with an accuracy of 0.0001 g to obtain the mass flow rate of the system. In the
meantime, the temperature of working fluid in the microchannel was measured by
calibrated T-type Cu-Ni thermocouples to determine accurately the values of the water
density and viscosity.
3. Dynamic data acquisition section
This section used an experimental platform with the test section laying horizontally on the
platform, above which a digital microscope hooked with video capture card and signal cable
to send the digital image to the PC for data-processing, ensuring that the working fluid
passed through microchannel and that no left-over bubbles or impurities existed to block
the flow channel that could lead to erroneous signals being obtained for the tests. In the
meantime, a notebook PC and a network system were used to transmit data at a speed of
one per 500 milliseconds. The data acquisition system for recording the electronic signals
was implemented to obtain data from the differential pressure transducer and T-type
thermocouples; the system was integrated through the instant monitoring software to
record and analyze the data received. For each data point being measured, the flow was
considered to be at a steady-state condition when the measured pressure drop and
temperature remained unchanged for at least 10 minutes. Each case was repeated for at least
three times to make sure that the arrangement could always produce reliable and
reproducible results.

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Fluid Dynamics in Microchannels 407

1.2.3 Numerical simulation


Numerical simulations were done by the CFD-ACE+ software [4] which provided an
integrated numerical analysis of the continuity, momentum, and energy equations for the
fluid flow and heat transfer. After specifying the boundary condition, CFD-ACE+ uses an
iterative, segregated solution method where in the equation sets for variables such as
pressure, velocity, and temperature are solved sequentially and repeatedly until a
converged solution is obtained. In general, iterative equation solvers are preferred for this
task because they are more economical in memory requirements than direct solvers. In CFD-
ACE+ program, conjugate gradient solvers and algebraic multi-grid solver are provided to
obtain the converged solution. In Chu et al. [3], the latter method was adopted. The basic
idea of a multi-grid solution is to use a hierarchy of grids, from fine to coarse, to solve a set
of equations, with each grid being particularly effective for removing errors of the
wavelength characteristic of the mesh spacing on that grid.
In CFD-ACE+, the finite-volume approach is adopted due to its capability of conserving
solution quantities. The solution domain is divided into a number of cells known as control
volumes. In the finite volume approach of CFD-ACE+, the governing equations are made
discrete and finite, and then numerically integrated over each of these computational cells or
control volumes. An example of such a control volume is shown in Fig.1.2 [5].

Fig. 1.2. 3D Computational Cell (Control Volume).


The geometric center of the control volume, which is denoted by P, is also often referred to as
the cell center. CFD-ACE+ employs a co-located cell-centered variable arrangement, i. e., all
dependent variables and material properties are stored at the cell center P. In other words, the
average value of any quantity within a control volume is given by its value at the cell center.
Most of the governing equations can be expressed in the form of a generalized transport
equation as shown in Eq. (1-1), which is also known as the generic conservation equation for
a quantity [5].

( ) t ( V ) ( ) S

(1-1)

transient convection diffusion source

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408 Fluid Dynamics, Computational Modeling and Applications

where S is the source term. The overall solution procedure in flowchart form for the solution
algorithm is shown in Fig. 1.3. The number of iterations (NITER) can be defined to dictate
how many times a procedure is repeated [6].

Fig. 1.3. Solution Flowchart.

2. Fundamental theory about flow motion


2.1 Pressure drop in single liquid-phase flow
2.1.1 Basic pressure drop correlations
For a non-circular cross section of the flow channels, the calculated hydraulic diameter Dh of
a rectangular channel is computed by the following equation:

Dh = 4Ach/Pw = 2WH/(W+H) (2-1)

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Fluid Dynamics in Microchannels 409

where Ach, Pw, Dh, W and H represent as the areas of microchannel, wetted perimeter,
hydraulic diameter, microchannel width and height, respectively.
The Reynolds number Re is defined as:

Re mumDh / m (2-2)

where m and m are mean dynamic viscosity and mean density of fluid at an arithmetic
mean temperature (Tm = (To+Ti)/2), respectively. It should be noted that the fluid properties
are functions of the temperature and values are obtained from correlations for dynamic
viscosity ( ) correlations for dynamic viscosity ( ), thermal conductivity (k), specific heat
(cp), and density () of DI water.
Under actual conditions, the measured pressure drop includes the effect of the losses (1) in
the bends and (2) at the entrance and exit, together with the frictional pressure drop in the
microchannel. Phillips [7] suggested that the measured pressure drop was the sum of these
components.

um2 4f app L
Pt = Kc +K e +2(Ach /Ap ) K 90 +
2 Dh
2
(2-3)

where Pt, Ap, Kc, Ke, K90, fapp and L are measured pressure drop, plenum area, contraction
loss coefficient, expansion loss coefficient, bends loss coefficient and apparent friction factor,
respectively. The loss coefficient K90 was recommended by Phillips [7]. Kc and Ke can be
obtained from Kays and London [8]. According to the published investigations with regard
to microchannels [9-12], these values of loss coefficient are usually obtained from the
traditional relationships in macro-scale flow.
In addition, the method described above for determining minor losses was supported by the
data obtained by Abdelall et al. [13], which showed that the experimentally measured loss
coefficients associated with single-phase flow in abrupt area changes in microchannels were
comparable to those obtained for large channels with the same area ratios.

2.1.2 Pressure drop in fully-developed laminar flow


For hydrodynamically fully developed flow, the velocity gradient at the channel wall can be
readily calculated from the well-known Hagen-Poiseuille parabolic velocity profile for the
fully developed laminar flow in a pipe. The Fanning friction factor fc is expressed in the
following form:

fc = Po/Re (2-4)
where the Poiseuille number Po is defined as Po = fRe, the product of the friction factor and
the Reynolds number.
For incompressible flow through horizontal channels of constant cross-sectional area, fc can
be calculated by Eq. (2-5), based on the mass flow rate and the pressure drop P where the
latter is due to the friction occurred inside the rectangular microchannel.

2 w Dh P
fc
mum2 2 mum2 L
(2-5)

where w is the wall shear stress, L is the channel length, and um is the mean flow velocity.

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410 Fluid Dynamics, Computational Modeling and Applications

A simple equation proposed by Shah and London [14] for fully developed, incompressible
and laminar flow in a rectangular channel was used to predict the friction factor of straight
rectangular microchannels. This equation, which has been used and proven to be adequate
for predicting liquid flows in rectangular microchannels by several researchers [15-17], is
expressed as follows:

f c 24(1 1.3553 c +1.9467 c 2 1.7012 c 3 +0.9564 c 4 0.2537 c 5 ) / Re (2-6)

Here fc is the Fanning friction factor for a straight channel and c is the aspect ratio, which is
the ratio of the dimension for the short side to that of the long side.

2.1.3 Pressure drop in developing laminar flow


The hydrodynamic entry length Lh for rectangular microchannels is given as follows [2].

Lh / Dh 0.05Re (2-7)

The apparent friction factor (fapp) includes the combined effects of frictional losses (pressure
losses in developed region) and the additional losses in the developing region. The
difference between the apparent friction factor (fapp) over a length x, measured from the
entry location, and the fully developed Fanning friction factor (fc) is expressed in terms of an
incremental pressure defect K(x) as follows [3]:

K( x ) f app fc (4x ) / Dh (2-8)

where K(x) is the Hagenbach factor in the above equation.

2.1.4 Fully developed and developing turbulent flow


Regarding fully developed turbulent flow in smooth microchannels, a number of
correlations with comparable accuracies are available in the literatures. Blasius put forward
the following equation which is used extensively nowadays.

f 0.0791Re 0.25 (2-9)

Covering both the developing and developed flow regions, Phillips [18] used a more
accurate equation for Fanning friction factor in a circular tube.

f ARe B (2-10)

where A 0.09290 and B 0.26800


1.01612 0.32930
x / Dh x / Dh
For rectangular microchannels, Re is replaced with the laminar-equivalent Reynolds number
given by

umDle um[(2 / 3) (11 / 24)(1 / c )(2 1 / c )]Dle


Re *

(2-11)

where Dle is the laminar-equivalent diameter calculated by the term in the brackets.

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Fluid Dynamics in Microchannels 411

2.1.5 Laminar-to-turbulent transition


The laminar-to-turbulent flow transition is another topic investigated by lots of researchers.
In the entrance region of rectangular tubes with abrupt area change, the laminar-to-
turbulent transition was reported to take place at a transition Reynolds number of Ret = 2200
for c =1 and at Ret = 2500 for parallel plates with c =0. For the other aspect ratios, a linear
interpolation is recommended.
Some of the initial studies presented an early transition to turbulent flow in microchannels.
However, several recent studies stated that the laminar-to-turbulent transition remained
unchanged. For circular microtubes with diameter 171-520 m, Bucci et al. [19] pointed that
the transition occurred around Ret = 2000. The result of Baviere et al. [20] also indicated that
the dimensions of smooth microchannels didnt affect the laminar-to-turbulent transition
and the critical Reynolds number was still around 2300. It can be supported by a number of
investigators, such as Schmitt and Kandlikar [21] for minichannels with Dh1 mm, and Li et
al. [22] for 80 m Dh 166.3 m.

2.1.6 Pressure drop related to the change liquid properties


Eq. (2-6) provides the theoretical value of Fanning friction factor in rectangular
microchannels at constant thermal properties of liquid suggested by Shah and London [23].
In the present experiments, the effect of liquid property variations cannot be neglected for a
large temperature difference between inlet and outlet. Kays and London [8] suggested a
corrected correlation for temperature dependent properties.

f / fm w / m M (2-12)

where M = 0.58 for liquid heating, and M = 0.5 for liquid cooling; subscripts m and w are for
the condition at the arithmetic mean fluid temperature and the condition at the wall
temperature, respectively.
Then, the corrected form for the Shah and London correlation [23] according to the present
study is

f c f c w / m
M
(2-13)

2.2 Basic heat transfer correlations in single liquid-phase flow


Results for the total heat transfer rate and the axial distribution of the mean temperature are
derived as follows for the constant surface temperature condition (taking three heated walls
in a channel for example, as shown in Fig. 2.1). Defining T as Ts Tm, the equation may be
expressed as

d( T ) Pw
hT
dTm
(2-14)
dx dx p
mc

Separating variable and integrating from the tube inlet to the outlet yield

T w hdx
To d( T ) L P

T
(2-15)
i p
0 mc

or,

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412 Fluid Dynamics, Computational Modeling and Applications

) w dx
To P L L1
Ti p 0 L
ln( (2-16)
mc

From the definition of the average convection heat transfer coefficient, it follows that

To
) w hL s hL ,
P L A
Ti
ln( Ts = constant (2-17)
p
mc p
mc

where hL , or simply h , is the average value of h for the entire channel, As is the heat
exchange area between the working fluid and wall surface inside the channel. Rearranging,

To Ts Tm , o
exp( s h ) ,
A
Ti Ts Tm , i
Ts = constant (2-18)
p
mc

For a general form of Eq. (2-18), one can obtain

Ts Tm ( x )
exp( w h ) ,
P x
Ts Tm ,i
Ts = constant (2-19)
p
mc

Fig. 2.1. Flow through a rectangular microchannel.


Since, by definition, Nusselt number equals to hDh/ , the average value of Nu for the entire
channel can be expressed as

Dh T mc
Nu ln o
p
m Ti As
, Ts = constant (2-20)

where m and cp are the mean thermal conductivity and heat capacity at constant pressure of
DI water at an arithmetic mean temperature, respectively; As is the heat exchange areas
between the walls and fluid.

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Fluid Dynamics in Microchannels 413

For the heat exchange at the constant heat flux, the deduction of correlations can be found in
[1]. Moreover, Lee et al. [24] examined the validity of conventional correlations and
numerical analysis approaches in predicting the heat transfer behavior in microchannels for
correctly matched inlet and boundary conditions.

3. Flow and heat transfer in microchannels of various configurations


3.1 Flow and heat transfer in V-shaped microchannels
A number of experimental and numerical investigations of single phase flow in
microchannel have been extensively performed. However, most studies have
experimental results obtained for microchannels with rectangular and circular cross-
sections. The studies of thermo-fluidic characteristics in microchannels with a V-shaped
cross-section are quite limited in this field. Thus, it is necessary to provide the present
knowledge of V-shaped microchannel.
Flockhart and Dhariwal [25] measured the flow characteristics of distilled water inside
trapezoidal microchannels with hydraulic diameters ranging from 50 to 120 m and the
Reynolds numbers below 600. They found that the flow characteristics of water in
trapezoidal microchannels could be predicted by the numerical analysis based on the
conventional theory.
Qu et al. [26, 27] used experimental and theoretical methods for the study of the thermo-

from 62 to 169 m. Results of their study indicated that the wall roughness of the
fluidic characteristics of the trapezoidal microchannels with hydraulic diameters ranging

microchannels might lead to lower Nusselt numbers as comparing with those obtained from
the theoretical predictions. In addition, they also found that the experimentally determined
friction factors in the trapezoidal microchannels were higher than those obtained from the
conventional theory. They used a roughness-viscosity model developed by Mala and Li [16]
to interpret the difference of friction factors obtained from the experimental data and those
obtained from the conventional theory.
Hetsroni et al. [28] performed an experimental investigation of a microchannel heat sink for

base of 250 m. The results indicated that the temperature distribution at the exit of the
cooling of electronic devices. The heat sink had parallel triangular microchannels with a

triangular microchannel had a nonlinear distribution, and the instabilities caused


fluctuations in the pressure drop and decrease in the heat transfer coefficient.
Wu and Cheng [29] conducted a series of experiments to measure the friction factor and
convective heat transfer coefficient in trapezoidal silicon microchannels with different
surface conditions. The results indicated that the geometric parameters had significant effect
on the Nusselt number and Poiseuille number of trapezoidal microchannels, and the
hydrophilic property at the surface of the microchannel enhanced the heat transfer
capability of the trapezoidal silicon microchannels.
Wu and Cheng [30] experimentally studied the laminar flow of de-ionized water in

ranging from 25.9 to 291 m. The measured results indicated that the Navier-Stokes
smooth silicon microchannels of trapezoidal cross-sections with hydraulic diameters

hydraulic diameter as small as 25.9 m.


equations were still valid for the laminar flow in the trapezoidal microchannel having a

Tiselj et al. [31] performed the experimental and numerical analyses to evaluate the effect of
axial heat flux on heat transfer in triangular microchannels with hydraulic diameter of 160
m in the range of Reynolds numbers from 3.2 to 64. The experimental results revealed that

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414 Fluid Dynamics, Computational Modeling and Applications

the temperature distribution of the triangular microchannels on the heated wall was in
agreement with the numerical predictions obtained from conventional Navier-Stokes and
energy equations.
Tiselj et al. [32] used three-dimensional numerical simulations for the study of the heat
transfer characteristics of the fluid flowing through triangular microchannels. Their
results indicated that a singular point existed near the exit of the channel. In addition, for
the flow with higher Reynolds number, the singular point was closer to the exit of the
channel.
Based on the conventional theory, Morin [33] developed a model to predict the viscous
dissipation effects in a microchannel with an axially unchanging cross section. The
microchannel geometries having rectangular, trapezoidal, and double trapezoidal were
discussed in his work. The water and isopropanol were used as working fluids. The
analytical results demonstrated that for different fluids the effect of viscous dissipation
could play different roles and that the effect of viscous dissipation could become very
significant for liquid flows when the hydraulic diameter was less than 100 m. In

function of the Eckert number (defined as Ec = u2/cvT), Reynolds number, and Poiseuille
addition, the rising temperature in an adiabatic microchannel could be expressed as a

number.

3.1.1 Model description


For the manufacture of V-shaped microchannels, photolithographic processes are
particularly utilized for silicon wafers, and these processes initiated in the electronic field
are well developed. When a photolithography-based process is employed, the
microchannels having a cross-section fixed by the orientation of the silicon crystal planes
can be fabricated; for example, the microchannels etched in <100> or in <110> silicon by
using a potassium hydroxide (KOH) solution can form a V-shaped cross-section (as shown
in Fig.3.1).

(a) (b)
Fig. 3.1. (a) Flowchart of micro-manufacture processing; (b) V-shaped microchannels.

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Fluid Dynamics in Microchannels 415

3.1.2 Results and discussion


For incompressible, fully-developed laminar flow, the friction factor can be expressed in
terms of the two experimentally obtained parameters pressure drop and mass flow rate.

Dh 2 Pexp
fexp KL )
L Vav 2
( (3-1)

where KL is the friction factor for the minor loss. For the comparison of values of f vs. Re as
shown in Fig. 3.2, the differences between the results obtained from numerical simulation
and those from traditional correlation are within 2.5% of each other, within 6% between the
numerical simulations and the experimental data, and with the f vs. Re values obtained
from the experimental data and those obtained from the numerical simulations approaching
a fixed value which is slightly lower than the value of 53.3 predicted by the traditional
theory.

Fig. 3.2. Comparison of f vs. Re for theoretical values, predicted values, and experimental
data for Specimen Set No. 4 [3].
Wu and Cheng [29] proposed a correlation for the V-shaped microchannels (Wb/Wt = 0) for
fluid at low Reynolds numbers as follows.

0.488 Wb Wt Dh
Nu 6.7 Re 1
3.547 0.041


3.577 1.369

Wt H Dh L
0.946
Pr , Re < 100 (3-2)

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416 Fluid Dynamics, Computational Modeling and Applications

where Wb and Wt are the bottom and the top width of microchannel, respectively. And is
the surface roughness.
Referring Wu and Cheng [29], Chu [3] proposed an empirical correlation, based on
experimentally obtained data from four sets of triangular microchannel test specimens (with
different channel widths) under low Reynolds number conditions (Re < 50).

Nu
1
1.2 (-23.1 25.4Wt0.5 )2 Re -2
(3-3)

Generally speaking, the trends of the predicted results obtained from the correlation
specified by Eq. (3-3) are in agreement, as shown in Fig. 3.3, while the widths of the
microchannels have an obvious impact on the behavior of the development of the Nusselt
numbers for the microchannels under study. It is noted that the magnitude of the Nusselt
number increases at a slower rate as the Reynolds number becomes larger than 20.

Fig. 3.3. Comparison of Nu vs. Re among empirical correlation and experimental data.
It is also noted that high temperature gradients at the inlet and exit were observed from the
temperature distributions of microchannels for all sets of the test specimens. In addition, the
Nusselt numbers increase as the Reynolds number increases, as shown in Fig. 3.3.
For the range of the Reynolds number being tested (Re < 50), the average discrepancy of the
values calculated from the correlation of Nu obtained in [3] and those obtained from the
experimental data is within 15%; the difference is judged to be in fair agreement.

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Fluid Dynamics in Microchannels 417

3.2 Flow in circular curved microchannels


Among various micro-fluidic systems such as micro-coolers, micro-biochips, micro-reactors,
and micro-fuel cells [3], the curved or bended microchannel (as shown in Fig. 3.5) has been
identified as being one of the essential elements for shifting the direction of fluid flow,
increasing the length of the path of the fluid flow, enhancing mixing efficiency, and
improving heat transfer performance within a confined and compact space [24-26].
Therefore, it is extremely important to acquire a fundamental understanding of the flow
behavior of fluid in curved microchannels, since its behavior affects the transport
phenomena for the design and process control of micro-fluidic systems.
Up to the present time, there have been numerous investigations in the characteristics of the
flow inside straight microchannels. However, a review of the literatures relative to
researches conducted in straight microchannels during the last decade [37, 38] has revealed
that only a handful of experimental or computational evaluations were done on the study of
flow characteristics in curved microchannels [39-41].
For the manufacture of curved microchannels, Chu [3] demonstrated that the curved

was etched on a silicon wafer with a 4-inch diameter and a 550 m thickness. The processes
microchannel could be constructed by standard etching processes; the curved microchannel

included SiO2 deposition, photoresist coating, developing, baking, etc. Subsequently, an


inductively coupled plasma (ICP) process accounting for the crystal directional
characteristics was used to finish the fabrication of the curved microchannel structure (as
shown in Figs. 3.4 and 3.5).

Fig. 3.4. Process flow of fabrication for curved rectangular microchannels.

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418 Fluid Dynamics, Computational Modeling and Applications

Fig. 3.5. Schematic diagram of the geometry for the curved rectangular microchannel.
For curved microchannels, the geometrical configurations used for testing are given in
Table 3.1 [3].

Channel Channel Channel Radius of Aspect Curvature


type width, w ( m) height, h ( m) curvature, Rc ( m ) ratio, c ratio
C1 200 200 5,000 1 0.04
C2 200 200 10,000 1 0.02
C3 300 200 5,000 0.667 0.048
C4 300 200 7,500 0.667 0.032
C5 300 200 10,000 0.667 0.024
C6 400 200 5,000 0.5 0.0533
C7 400 200 7,500 0.5 0.0355
C8 400 200 10,000 0.5 0.0266
C9 200 40 5,000 0.2 0.0133
C10 200 40 7,500 0.2 0.0088
C11 200 40 10,000 0.2 0.0066
C12 300 40 7,500 0.133 0.0094
C13 300 40 10,000 0.133 0.007
C14 400 40 5,000 0.1 0.0146
C15 400 40 10,000 0.1 0.0072
Table 3.1. Geometrical parameters of the curved microchannels used for testing
For incompressible flow through horizontal channels of constant cross-sectional area, the
Fanning friction factor fc is based on the mass flow rate and the pressure drop Pf, where the
latter is due to the friction occurred inside the curved microchannel.

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Fluid Dynamics in Microchannels 419

2 w D P w 3 h 3 Pf
fc h2 f
um 2 umL Rc c Q 2 ( h w)
180
2
(3-4)

where w is the wall shear stress, L is the channel length, um is the mean flow velocity, Q is
the volumetric flow rate of the working fluid, Rc is the radius of curvature, and c is the
angle of the microchannel.
According to the recommendations and method described by Holman [42], Chu [3]
proposed the expression of uncertainties associated with Re, f and the product fRe for
curved microchannels.

U Re Q h w
1/2


2 2 2 2

Re Q h w
(3-5)

U f p
2
Q L h w h w
1/2

9 9
2


2 2


2 2 2

p Q L h w hw
4 (3-6)

f

U f Re p Q L
2
h w h w
1/2

9 9 4
2 2 2


2 2 2

fRe p Q L h w hw
(3-7)

In Eqs. (3-5) (3-7), it is observed that the measurement errors in the height h and width w
of the microchannel dimensions have a significant influence on the overall uncertainty.
In order to compare the flow characteristics of the curved microchannel with those of the
conventional dimensions, the relationship between the friction factor and the Reynolds
number estimated from the empirical correlation proposed by Yang et al. [43] are plotted in
Figs. 3.6 and 3.7 (it should be noted that the correlation was originally proposed by Hua and
Yang [44]). The correlation is expressed by the following equation.

5 w
f
0.175

Re 0.65 2R c
(3-8)

From Figs. 3.6 and 3.7, it is observed that when Re<600, all experimentally-determined
friction factors decrease nonlinearly with an increase of the Reynolds number. For the
curved microchannels with aspect ratios varying from 0.5 to 1, it was observed that the
friction factor of the curved microchannels was mainly affected by the curvature ratio and
the Reynolds number. However, for curved microchannels with aspect ratios varying from
0.1 to 0.2, the aspect ratio had a significant effect on the relationship between the friction
factor and the Reynolds number.
Another important parameter used to describe the laminar flow fluid behavior in channels
is the Poiseuille number Po, which is a product of the friction factor and the Reynolds
number. According to the numerical investigation presented by Wang and Liu [45] for a
curved microchannel with an aspect ratio of 1 and a curvature ratio of 510-6, the predicted
relationship between the friction factor ratio and De number, defined by De =
(umDh/ )(Dh/2Rc)1/2, can be expressed by the following equation.

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420 Fluid Dynamics, Computational Modeling and Applications

fRe c / fRe s 0.96194 0.01035De 0.78715 , where 0 De 450 (3-9)

Type C2 (c=1.0, Rc=5000 m) h : 200 m


Type C3 (c=0.667, Rc=5000 m)
Type C4 (c=0.667, Rc=7500 m)
Type C5 (c=0.667, Rc=10000 m)
Type C6 (c=0.5, Rc=5000 m)
Eq.(3.8) for Type C2
Eq.(3.8) for Type C3
Eq.(3.8) for Type C4
Eq.(3.8) for Type C5
Eq.(3.8) for Type C6

Fig. 3.6. Comparison of friction factor versus Re number for Type C2 to C6 microchannels.

Type C10 (c=0.2, Rc=7500 m) h : 40 m


Type C11 (c=0.2, Rc=10000 m)
Type C12 (c=0.133, Rc=7500 m)
Type C13 (c=0.133, Rc=1000 m)
Type C14 (c=0.1, Rc=5000 m)
Eq.(3.8) for Type C10
Eq.(3.8) for Type C11
Eq.(3.8) for Type C12
Eq.(3.8) for Type C13
Eq.(3.8) for Type C14

Fig. 3.7. Comparison of friction factor versus Re number for Type C10 to C14 microchannels.

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Fluid Dynamics in Microchannels 421

3.3 Flow in fractal-like microchannels


Since the paper published by Tuckerman and Pease [46], manifold microchannel heat sinks
using single-phase fluid as coolant have emerged as one of the effective and promising
cooling techniques for microelectronic cooling for the last two decades. Due to the high
surface-to-volume ratio and compactness for the microchannels, application of
microchannels possesses the potential to be an attractive method for cooling micro-system
devices. For this reason, numerous investigations have been devoted to fluid flow and heat
transfer characteristics of forced convection of water in parallel microchannels [47, 48, 49, 50,
51, 52], and the majority of investigations mainly focused on single phase flow and heat
transfer in circular, trapezoidal, rectangular, and parallel plate microchannels by analyzing
the variations in the physical behaviors associated with the friction factor, region of
transition, and the Nusselt numbers [53]. Moreover, among the extensive studies of micro-
thermo-fluidics in straight microchannels, discrepancies were found among the results
obtained from the experimental data and those obtained from the classical theories.
Generally speaking, the conventional design of flow architectures such as parallel plate
microchannels is based on a unique length scale that is distributed uniformly throughout
the available space. However, a network of straight microchannels could cause non-uniform
temperature distribution [54, 55], high pressure gradient [56, 57, 58], and flow mal-
distribution [59, 60, 61, 62] in the micro-fluidic systems. Thus, it is necessary to develop new
type of microchannel geometries to improve the hydrodynamic characteristics of straight
microchannel networks.
Consequently, many researchers [63-71] have tried to obtain useful guidelines from the
efficient transport properties of nature systems for the design of flow architectures in micro-
system.

3.3.1 Model description


Flow architectures are ubiquitous in nature systems such as mammalian circulatory and
respiratory networks, arteries and veins in animals, stems and leaves in plants, and river
basins [72]. The structure of mammalian lungs is a typical example of a distribution system
with a nearly tree-shaped structure.
Bejan and Errera [73] first investigated the architecture of the volume-to-point path such
that the flow resistance is minimal. They found that fractal-like networks configuration
could provide a minimal flow resistance. Later, Lorente et al. [74] proposed a simpler and
direct route to determine the construction of effective fractal-like flow structure in thermal
and fluidic systems and discussed the importance of the simplified design method.
To generate a fractal-like microchannel network, the analytical configuration of fractal-like
microchannel is characterized by the following constant ratios of the length and hydraulic

of the channel at the kth branching level, respectively. The ratios and are defined as:
diameter of the channel at the (k+1)th branching level to the length and hydraulic diameter

N -1/DL
Lk 1
(3-10)
Lk

N -1/Dd
Dk 1
(3-11)
Dk

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422 Fluid Dynamics, Computational Modeling and Applications

where N represents the number of branches into which a single channel is bifurcated, DL
and Dd are fractal dimensions associated with the length and diameter of the channels,
respectively, and Lk and Dk represent the length and hydraulic diameter of the fractal-like
channel section at branching k, respectively, with k originated from zero.
An initial channel of length L0 and diameter D0 bifurcates at one end, and the new channels
of length L1 and diameter D1 bifurcate at each end to produce the first branching level of the
fractal networks, as shown in Fig. 3.8. The bifurcations at the ends of the newly formed
channels may be reproduced until the required branching level of the fractal-like
microchannel networks is obtained, as shown in Fig. 3.9.

Fig. 3.8. Generation of a fractal-like microchannel networks.

Fig. 3.9. Schematic of the geometric structure of fractal-like microchannel networks with
180o branch angle.

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Fluid Dynamics in Microchannels 423

According to Murrays study [75] on cardiovascular system, it has been found that there is
an optimal dimension associated with the hydraulic diameter Dd for the fractal-like
networks, such that the global flow resistance is minimized. In the study done by Chu [3],
the choice of Dd = 3 was taken in the numerical calculations by following the Murrays
study, and the values of DL was taken as 1.4 in setting up the computation domain of fractal-
like microchannel networks. In addition, the branching angle f was chosen to be 180o, N
was set to be equal to two for the present analysis, and a rectangular cross-section with fixed
channel depth was assumed for all of channel branches. The detail dimensions of the fractal-
like microchannel networks based on Eqs. (3-10) and (3-11) are given in Table 3.2.

k 0 1 2 3 4 5
Hk (mm) 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5
Wk (mm) 1.5 0.74 0.45 0.30 0.21 0.15
Dk (mm) 0.75 0.60 0.47 0.37 0.30 0.24
Lk (mm) 15 9.14 5.57 3.40 2.07 1.26

Table 3.2. Channel dimensions of the fractal-like microchannel networks


Furthermore, the pumping power in the fractal and parallel channel networks is compared
with the theoretical correlation based on the recommendation proposed by Chen and Cheng
[53] as follows.

[1-( /(N 4 ))m 1 ](1-N )


Pf /Pp
[1- /(N 4 )][1-(N )m 1 ]
(3-12)

where Pf is the pumping power in fractal-like channel networks and Pp is the pumping
power in parallel channel networks.

3.3.2 Results and discussion


The flow in straight microchannels with low Reynolds number is mainly regarded as
laminar flow, with a parabolic profile under fully-developed flow condition. However, due
to the disturbance effect of channel pattern for the fractal-like microchannel networks, the
water flow in straight channel deviates from the laminar situation when the fluid flows
through the T-shaped bifurcations. Fig. 3.11 displays the pressure drop variation along Path
Aa-b-c and Path Cd-e-f, and in the middle of the channel (Path B). The measured path of
pressure distribution of the fractal-like microchannel networks is shown in Fig. 3.10.
As the water flows through, the sharp increase of pressure is developed in the center and
outer sides of the channel, and the inner pressure is rapidly decreasing behind the sharp
corner. Then, behind the branches of these T-shaped bifurcations, the distribution of outer
and center pressures are dropping immediately, and the velocity boundary layer
redevelopment is observed before the next T-shaped bifurcation, as shown in Fig. 3.10. Due
to the curvature of the bifurcation, the water flow is directed into a new direction. At this
time, the centrifugal forces push the water flow from the center of the inlet channel to the
outer wall, and the pressure on the outer side of the channel is increased.

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424 Fluid Dynamics, Computational Modeling and Applications

Fig. 3.10. Paths A, B, C (includes branches k=0, k=1, k=2, k=3, k=4, and k=5) and positions of
outer and inner walls.

Fig. 3.11. Pressure distribution in fractal-like channel for m=5 case.

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Fluid Dynamics in Microchannels 425

In the fractal-like microchannel networks, as the water flow passes through the T-shaped
bifurcation, a symmetric double vortex is generated near the top and bottom walls with
respect to the centerline of the cross-section as shown in Fig. 3.12. Note that the outside wall
is to the right of each flow pattern shown in the Fig. 3.12.

Re=87

Re=875

Re=1794

k/ k,max=0 k/ k,max=0.2 k/ k,max=0.4

Fig. 3.12. Secondary flow pattern at cross-sections of channels at branch k = 1 with three
different Re numbers (which k is the local coordinate indicating the distance from the inlet
of the kth bifurcation).
As observed in Fig. 3.12, the secondary flow is composed of two-vortex flow and the type of
two-vortex flow rotates in the opposite direction. The flow direction on the centerline is
toward the outside wall. As the inlet Reynolds number increases from the k = 1 segment
region, the spanwise component of velocity is stronger and the larger secondary velocities
are concentrated near the outside wall. However, it can be seen that the secondary flow
initiated at the inlet of the branch (k=1) gradually diminishes with increasing distance from
the inlet of the branch (k=1).
The variation of pumping power ratios versus the Reynolds numbers at different branching
levels is plotted in Fig. 3.13. It is seen that the ratio of pumping powers for the cases with m
= 3 to 5 varies linearly as Reynolds number increases, and the variation of pumping powers
ratio versus Reynolds number diminishes gradually with increasing branching levels. The
region under the Pf/Pp = 1 line indicates that the fractal-like microchannel network exhibits
better hydrodynamic performance relative to that of the parallel channel network.

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426 Fluid Dynamics, Computational Modeling and Applications

Fig. 3.13. Variation of Pf/PP versus Re with different branch levels.

4. Flow motion and heat transfer in microchannels with turbulence


generators
An experimental study [76] was conducted on the rectangular microchannels with
longitudinal vortex generators (LVGs) in the Reynolds number up to 1,200 by using DI
water as working fluid. The results can be summarized by three concluding remarks: 1)
heat transfer was enhanced with the help of longitudinal vortices in rectangular
microchannel while encountering larger pressure drop; 2) it was also found that laminar-
to-turbulent transition occurred earlier in rectangular microchannel with LVGs than that
for the smooth rectangular microchannel; 3) different configurations of LVGs in
rectangular microchannel resulted in different overall heat transfer performance (the ratio
of heat transfer enhancement to pressure drop increase), which increased with an increase
of the Reynolds number. Discussed below were results of the research studies done by
Chu [3] and Liu et al. [76].

4.1 Model description


Dimensions of rectangular microchannels with longitudinal vortex generators are shown in
Fig. 4.1. H, W and L are the height, width, and length of microchannels, respectively. The
geometrical configuration of LVGs is also shown in Fig. 4.1, which illustrates the length,
width, and angle of attack for the LVGs. More details about the locations of LVGs (channel
types G1G7) in test chips are shown in Table 4.1.

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Fluid Dynamics in Microchannels 427

Fig. 4.1. Schematic diagram of rectangular microchannel with longitudinal vortex generators
[3, 76].

Table 4.1. List of rectangular microchannel configurations

4.2 Results and discussion


From Fig. 4.2, it can be observed that the rectangular microchannels with LVGs clearly have
better heat transfer enhancement than the smooth rectangular microchannel (channel type
G4). It can also be seen from Fig. 4.2 that for the rectangular microchannels with LVGs, the
slopes of the Nusselt number curves change abruptly when the Reynolds number reaches
the range of 600-730. From the conclusion of reference [54], the laminar-to-turbulent
transition occurs in a similar range of the Reynolds numbers.

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428 Fluid Dynamics, Computational Modeling and Applications

(a) (b)

(c) (d)

(e)
Fig. 4.2. Nusselt number as a function of Reynolds number for microchannels with
longitudinal vortex generators [3, 76].
From Fig. 4.3, one can observe that the rectangular microchannels with LVGs result in much
larger pressure drop than that for the smooth rectangular microchannel. In addition,
different configurations of LVGs in rectangular microchannel demonstrate different fluid
flow characteristics.

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Fluid Dynamics in Microchannels 429

(a) (b)

(c) (d)
Fig. 4.3. Apparent friction factor as a function of Reynolds number for (a) G1, G2 and G3, (b)
G3, G4, G6 and G7, (c) G1, G3 and G4 and (d) G2, G3 and G7 channels [3, 76].

4.3 Empirical correlations


4.3.1 Apparent friction factor correlations
The empirical correlations of experimental data for apparent friction factors are listed in
Table 4.2.

Laminar flow Ranges of Turbulent flow Ranges of


regime applicability regime applicability
G1 f = 7.1 / Re0.792 7.8<RePrDh/L<36 f = 0.657 / Re0.424 36<RePrDh/L<61
G2 f = 4.657 / Re0.707 7.8<RePrDh/L<31 f = 0.324 / Re0.286 31<RePrDh/L<61
G4 f=10.016/ Re0.859 7.8<RePrDh/L<36 f = 0.875 / Re0.482 36<RePrDh/L<61
G6 f = 9.088 / Re0.858 7.8<RePrDh/L<37 f = 0.734 / Re0.471 37<RePrDh/L<61
G7 f = 7.443 / Re0.815 7.8<RePrDh/L<32 f = 0.431 / Re0.364 32<RePrDh/L<61
Table 4.2. Empirical correlations for apparent friction factors

4.3.2 Heat transfer correlations


For laminar and turbulent flows in rectangular microchannels with LVGs, the empirical
correlations (obtained by curve-fitting) of the experimental data are shown in Table 4.3.

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430 Fluid Dynamics, Computational Modeling and Applications

Channel Laminar flow regime Ranges of applicability

Nu 4.76
1.253
0.366(Re Pr Dh / L )
1 5.56(Re Pr Dh / L )0.095
G1 7.8<RePrDh/L<36

Nu 4.67
0.329(Re Pr Dh / L )1.322
1 4.041(Re Pr Dh / L )0.189
G2 7.8<RePrDh/L<31

Nu 4.26
0.432(Re Pr Dh / L )1.358
1 2.595(Re Pr Dh / L )0.471
G4 7.8<RePrDh/L<36

Nu 4.07
0.418(Re Pr Dh / L )1.357
1 2.321(Re Pr Dh / L )0.479
G6 7.8<RePrDh/L<37

Nu 4.5
0.364(Re Pr Dh / L )1.168
1 5.269(Re Pr Dh / L )0.015
G7 7.8<RePrDh/L<31

Channel Turbulent flow regime Ranges of applicability


G1 Nu = 0.011Re0.934Pr1/3 36<RePrDh/L<61
G2 Nu = (19.85 - 372.1Re-0.5)Pr1/3 31<RePrDh/L<61
G4 Nu = 0.0182Re0.845Pr1/3 36<RePrDh/L<61
G6 Nu = 0.0311Re0.763Pr1/3 37<RePrDh/L<61
G7 Nu = (39.03 - 221.5/lnRe)Pr1/3 31<RePrDh/L<61
Table 4.3. Empirical correlations for Nusselt numbers [3]

5. Concluding remarks
The above topic was chosen to be included in this chapter on Fluid Dynamics in
Microchannels due to the fact that one of the key research categories done in Thermo-Fluids
Analysis Group (TFAG) Lab at Department of Mechanical Engineering, Chung Yuan
Christian University in Chung-Li, Taiwan, is associated with the study on the behaviors of
fluid flow and heat transfer for water flowing through microchannels. In addition, fluid
flow of micro-scale channels is of interest to many researchers, academicians, and
practitioners; thus, the topic was deemed to be an appropriate one to be included in the
book on Fluid Dynamics.
This chapter summarized the work performed and the results obtained in both fluid flow
and heat transfer done by TFAG over the last several years. The authors would like to
express their deep appreciation for the financial supports obtained from National Science
Council, Taiwan (Grant Nos. NSC93-2212-E-033-012, NSC94-2212-E-033-017, NSC95-2212-E-
033-066, NSC96-2212-E-033-039, NSC97-2212-E-033-050, and NSC99-2212-E-033-025) and
Chung Yuan Christian University (Grant No. CYCU-98-CR-ME).

6. Nomenclature
A Microchannel Area, m2
Ach Microchannel Area, m2
cp Specific heat at constant pressure, kJ kg-1 K-1
cv Specific heat at constant volume, kJ kg-1 K-1

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Fluid Dynamics in Microchannels 431

Dc Diameter of microchannel, m
Dd Fractal dimensions associated with the diameter
De Dean number
Dh Hydraulic diameter, m
DL Fractal dimensions associated with the length
Dle Laminar equivalent diameter, Eq. (2-11)
Ec Eckert number
f Friction factor
G Vortex generator
H Microchannel height, m
k Branch serial number
K Friction factor for minor loss (Eq. (3-8))
Hagenbach factor (Eq. (2-8))
L Microchannel length, m
m Mass flow rate, kg s-1
N Number of branches in fractal-like microchannels
Nu Nusselt number
Po Poiseuille number
Pr Prandtl number
Pw Wetted perimeter, m
Q Volumetric flow rate, m3 s-1
Rc Radius of curvature, m
Re Reynolds number
S Source term (Eq. (1-1))
T Temperature, K
u Velocity, m s-1
W Microchannel width, m
Wb Bottom width of trapezoidal microchannels
Wt Top width of trapezoidal microchannels
Surface roughness, m
Greek symbols
c Aspect ratio

Diameter ratio
Length ratio
Angle of vortex generator
thermal conductivity, W m-1 K-1
Dynamic viscosity, kg m-1 s-1
Density, kg m-3
Shear stress, N m-2
Subscripts
app Apparent
c Contraction
ch Channel
e Expansion
h Hydraulic

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432 Fluid Dynamics, Computational Modeling and Applications

i Inlet
m Arithmetic mean
o Outlet
s Bottom side of microchannel test chip
t Turbulent

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Fluid Dynamics, Computational Modeling and Applications
Edited by Dr. L. Hector Juarez

ISBN 978-953-51-0052-2
Hard cover, 660 pages
Publisher InTech
Published online 24, February, 2012
Published in print edition February, 2012

The content of this book covers several up-to-date topics in fluid dynamics, computational modeling and its
applications, and it is intended to serve as a general reference for scientists, engineers, and graduate
students. The book is comprised of 30 chapters divided into 5 parts, which include: winds, building and risk
prevention; multiphase flow, structures and gases; heat transfer, combustion and energy; medical and
biomechanical applications; and other important themes. This book also provides a comprehensive overview
of computational fluid dynamics and applications, without excluding experimental and theoretical aspects.

How to reference
In order to correctly reference this scholarly work, feel free to copy and paste the following:

Jyh-tong Teng, Jiann-Cherng Chu, Chao Liu, Tingting Xu, Yih-Fu Lien, Jin-Hung Cheng, Suyi Huang, Shiping
Jin, Thanhtrung Dang, Chunping Zhang, Xiangfei Yu, Ming-Tsang Lee, and Ralph Greif (2012). Fluid
Dynamics in Microchannels, Fluid Dynamics, Computational Modeling and Applications, Dr. L. Hector Juarez
(Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-51-0052-2, InTech, Available from: http://www.intechopen.com/books/fluid-dynamics-
computational-modeling-and-applications/fluid-dynamics-in-microchannels

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